Ebola crisis: A threat to international peace and security

Ebola crisis

The recent EBOLA outbreak in West Africa is an imminent threat to international peace and security not only for health but also for food, travel, housing, and trade in the entire region. The outbreak has already spanned international borders between Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, with the potential to spread far beyond within Africa and other cotinents.two of the hardest hit countries in West Africa are Sierra Leone and Liberia are post conflicts states, particularly vulnerable to civil and political instability arising as a result of Ebola disaster. The health system in the hit countries have already collapsed under the weight of the Ebola outbreak. with a failure not only to treat and contain the outbreak but also to care for people with several health conditions, such as AIDS, malaria, and non-communicable diseases. The collapse of civil and political institutions could follow if governments, with the flow of international assistance, can’t bring the epidemic under control

In 1976, Ebola, first emerged in Sudan and Zaire, infected over 283 people, with the mortality rate of 53%.the second Ebola virus emerged from yambuku, Zaire, with the highest mortality rate of 88%, infected 318 people. Despite the tremendous effort of experienced researchers, Ebola’s natural reservoir was never identified. The third Ebola emerged in 1989, when septic monkeys were smuggled into rest on, Virginia, from Mindanao in the Philippines. The last known strain of Ebola, Ebola Cote d’Ivoire (EBO-CI) was discovered in 1994 when a female ethnologist performing a necropsy on a dead chimpanzee from the Tai Forest, fortuitously infected herself during the necropsy.

Liberian minister of national defense, Brownie Samukai, cautioned the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that Liberia’s national existence is “seriously threatened” by the Ebola outbreak, which “has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our state. Liberians are facing their gravest threat since war” with “the speed and scale of the loss of lives, and the economic, social, political and security reverberations of the crisis are affecting Liberia profoundly.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as a threat to global health security. On August 8, 2014 the WHO Director-General declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC). This statement was made under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR): a legally mandatory international agreement among the 196 states parties appreciative to spot, prevent, and control the international spread of disease

The UN Security Council Must Act to Certify that Ebola Does Not Undermine International Peace and Security. The UN Security Council is charged with the essential duty to maintain international peace and security. Article 25 of its Charter obligates UN Members “to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.” Standing alone among UN structures the Security Council, therefore, has the mandate and power to lead and coordinate an international response to this incomparable disease wide-ranging, which threatens not only the security of an entire region but also has a probable to undermine peace and security globally. As a result, the declaration could alter the international response, not only raising the political visibility and legality of international development assistance for health, but also to firmly take charge, and lead, a coordinated and systematic global mobilization.

In 2000, united nations security council had passed two resolutions on HIV/AIDS founded on a principle that epidemic posed a threat to international peace and security, the UNSC held a special session on HIV/AIDS recognizing that the epidemic “is not simply a humanitarian issue “If a country loses so many of its resources in fighting a disease which takes down a third of its population, it’s going to be undermined, so it is a security issue. UNSC Resolution, recognizing “the importance of a coordinated international response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, given its possible growing impact on social instability and emergency situations. HIV poses one of the most daunting challenges to the development, progress and stability of societies and requires an exceptional and comprehensive global response, and noting with satisfaction the unparalleled global response of Member States.”

Threats to international peace and security caused by public health emergencies are directly within the scope of the UNSC’s power. These two Security Council resolutions transformed the international response to AIDS, ultimately creating the Global Fund to mobilize resources. This is a time for the Security Council to take charge of the international response to Ebola encompassing all actors and based on need rather than historical ties. The UN Security Council passed Resolution in September, declaring the Ebola virus to be a “threat to international peace and security,” it marked several indicators for the international body. Not only did a record-setting 134 countries co-sponsor the resolution, it was one of three resolutions in the history of the Council to address a global health concern, and the first to declare a health issue to be a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council acknowledged that Ebola was not just a health crisis, but a security crisis. Ebola has shown that health crises can be deadlier than some intra-state conflicts and can bring governments and economies to their knees.

Resolution may also suggest that the Security Council is continuing to push the boundaries of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security under international law to bring into line more closely with a “human security” context. It’s factual that health concerns do not fall under the traditional security paradigm but they do fall under human security. Security Council has widened the definition of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security, to include issues such as humanitarian disasters, human rights exploitations, and even the knockdown of democratically-elected governments, epidemics have also joined the list of non-traditional security threats. The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) has come to represent the amalgamation of health and wider security, political, and humanitarian scopes in the UN system.

General Assembly Resolution, UNMEER has a mandate to direct and coordinate the UN system’s response to Ebola in West Africa. Regarded as neither a peacekeeping mission nor a political mission, UNMEER operates jointly under the leadership of the UN Secretariat and WHO, binding both the political expertise of the Secretariat and the technical expertise of the WHO and other UN agencies. In taking up Ebola, the Security Council has signaled its willingness to view epidemics on this scale as a threat to international peace and security, further intensifying the interpretation of its mandate and increasing the securitization of health issues within the UN system

WHO has made temporary recommendations to member states to address a PHEIC regarding persons and goods to reduce or prevent the international spread of disease? These recommendations, however just are that non-binding advice. Although the WHO’s Constitution mandates the agency to be the leading and coordinating organization for world health, the agency has as a substitute seen itself more of a technical body, leaving even poor countries with delicate health systems to primarily defend for themselves. The Ebola crisis in West Africa is in desperate need of this type of a coordinated, well-lead international response: not only for the peace and security of the region but also on concerned grounds and to ensure global health security.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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